Posts Tagged ‘Britflick’

Bloomfield (1970)

Dir: Richard Harris, Uri Zohar | Cast: Richard Harris, Romy Schneider, Kim Burfield, Maurice Kaufmann | UK Drama 97′

Richard Harris made one foray into directing with this  sports drama that drew boos at the Berlin Festival and came home empty-handed at the Golden Globes.

Harris stars alongside Romy Schneider in Bloomfield, also known as The Hero (and the less promising Fallen Idol in Spain) filmed during a drink and drug induced long weekend that lasted over thirty years before he became beloved of a whole generation of youngsters as the original Dumbledore. Suffice to say, his co-director Uri Zohar left the entertainment world shortly afterwards to become a rabbi.

If the words ‘A Richard Harris Film’ didn’t already instil a sense of dread, the credits then declare that it contains ‘Additional Material by Richard Harris’, since the stoned actor took the film over just a few days into production.

It’s not actually too bad, but it’s not very good either, with Romy Schneider completely wasted as Harris’s whiny high-maintenance wife. On paper an Israeli remake of This Sporting Life, it’s actually more like The Champ, with Harris furiously bonding with cute little tyke Kim Burfield, who’d rather be in Brazil since Israel is “a lousy country for football!!” The film, however, is smothered in local colour, along with all the temptations that befall a first-time director: zooms, slow motion, freeze-frames, shots of sunsets and so on. It even has songs; but mercifully not sung by Harris himself but the wonderful Maurice Gibb ! Richard Chatten.





In Bruges (2008)

Dir: Martin McDonagh | Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Clemence Poesy | Irish/UK Drama

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much and so continuously as watching In Bruges. The sheer outrageousness of it all is enough to raise a smile whenever you think back to it. Although Woody Allen’s All Time Crooks and most of his other comedies certainly beat it on wisecracks and clever dialogue, Martin McDonagh’s script epitomises the sheer pissed-offness of a couple of sweary Dublin hitmen who fetch up in the Belgian town after failing abysmally to bring off a job set for them by their ridiculously snarling boss Ralph Fiennes (as Harry) – playing out of character – in his finest comedy hour.

There’s nothing to be proud of in the sweary humour but it’s infectiously funny for most of the film’s running time. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play Ray and Ken, who have been ordered to lie low after the fiasco – in Bruges. Shoot the breeze, enjoy the architecture and wander round generally taking in the atmosphere. To makes matters worse they are to share a tiny, twin room in a B&B – but milling about just isn’t their style, it queers their pitch and generally leaves them back-footed, appalled at themselves and each other, the whole situation is ludicrous, and they moan and rant as they mooch about aimlessly, quite out of place in this quaint, romantic hideaway where everyone else is enjoying themselves. Not them.

Martin McDonagh’s directs with easy aplomb. Farrell explodes when a man with an American accent complains about their cigarette smoke – although smoking was still quite legal at the time, in Bruges. Farrell then meets sexy single girl Poesy, and the story reaches a natural, successful conclusion. A real one-off, but a memorable one where everyone rises to the occasion. MT


The Isle (2018)

Dir: Matthew Butler Hart | Fantasy Horror | Conleth Hill, Alex Hassell, Tori Butler Hart, Fisayo Akinade, Alix Wilton Regan, Emma King, Graham Butler | 96′ | UK

Matthew Butler Hart crafts a beautiful and believable horror fantasy set in nineteenth century Scotland and exploring a mythological folk tale of sirens and succubi. Although lacking the weighty social themes of Robert Eggers’ The Witch this is an impressive period piece that delivers an ominous sense of dread throughout its well-paced and compact running time.

On a remote island off the Scottish coast three sailors find themselves washed ashore after a mysterious shipwreck. They soon meet the four remaining islanders who are living with a terrible secret history that has haunted their dwindling community. Clues to the mystery are telegraphed by eerie sound effects and subtle visual cues, and a satisfying conclusion is delivered in the film’s final reveal.

Tori Hart’s imaginative script conflates Greek mythology with British folkloric tales such as The Wicker Man and nautical literary fare such as James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pilot (1824) to develop its own distinct narrative based on a community struggling to survive its unsettling past. This is a classically-styled quality British production with convincing performances from Alex Hassell (Suburbicon) as Captain Oliver Gosling, and Tori Butler Hart who plays the enigmatic female lead Lanthe, one of the island’s four remaining residents who holds the key to the weird goings on, along with her father Douglas (Games of Thrones’ Conleth Hill). Peter Wellington makes atmospheric use of the misty, wind-swept seascapes of Scotland and Suffolk to create an affective fantasy horror story. MT


Gary Numan: Android in La La Land (2016)

Directors: Steve Read and Rob Alexander

85min | Biopic | UK

Steve Read and Rob Alexander get together again for their second documentary that stylishly explores the human side of the reclusive British synthpop pioneer who started Tubeway Army rising to fame with two iconic ’70s hits – Cars and Are Friends Electric?

After thirty years away from the spotlight 55 year old Gary Numan emerges a blissfully married father of three small girls and making a move to a castle in Los Angeles to expand his repertoire into the film world and promote Splinter (2013) – his latest album which turns out to be a bestseller. Alexander and Reed’s film doesn’t attempt to fill in the blanks of the past three decades career-wise, but looks behind Numan’s cold and alienating public persona to expose a rather loveable man who is genuinely passionate about his music and disarmingly down to earth. The directors also avoid a talking heads approach centring their biopic on a close circle of Numan’s collaborators and his parents, who reveal how their son was a self-starting loner who suffered pathological stage fright as was much later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Numan started life as Gary Webb and formed his five man band Tubeway Army as a London teengager in the late ’70s, getting them signed to a major label during punk rock’s surge to the public consciousness. When he discovered how the moog synthesiser could produce a series of highly original sounds Numan incorporated these electronic new wave vibes into a groundbreaking album ‘Replicas’ creating the first UK synthpop hit ‘Are Friends Electric?’ – along the same lines as the German band Kraftwerk several years previously. His robotic stage routines and swivelling eye movements where a clever attempt to emotionally detach himself from his public appearances in order to cope with severe shyness and social unease caused by Asperger’s, but they soon became one of the most innovative and successful features of his performances.

However, debt rapidly followed his breakout success largely due to the mounting costs of his futuristic stage sets and expensive lighting equipment and this caused a rift with his father and manager as the family had sacrificed everything for their only son’s career. The film makes no attempt to explore how financially Numan bounced back simply stating that he carried on working and touring, clutching success from the jaws of failure due to inner strength and his relationship with Gemma – a long-time groupie who eventually became his wife in 1997. One of the takeway moments of the film is when Gary shares his composing techniques ensconced in his musical studio. Fully admitting how unpleasant he can become during this anxiety ridden process, he confesses to coming alive nowadays on stage and wishes he could go on forever.

GARY NUMAN; ANDROID IN LA LA LAND works as a portrait of a fully evolved creative force and also as a tribute to  his relationship with the driven force of bubbly Gemma whose hair changes from a raven to flame and then butter blond bombshell during filming and, whom he describes as “everything that I am not” and his conduit to the outside world. Gemma has clearly built her entire existence round the easy-going and appealingly self-deprecating musician who appears to be charmingly devoid of hang-ups or pretensions as he goes about his days in black jeans, tee-shirts and sleeve tattoos. Numan still dyes his quiff of hair black in an attempt to stay youthful. But as his daughter Echo comments: “Daddy you still look old – but with black hair instead of grey”. Clearly children keep you grounded, even when you’re a pop star. MT



Hunky Dory (2011) Prime Video

Dir: Marc Evans. Wri: Laurence Coriat | Cast. Minnie Driver, Aneurin Barnard, Hadyn Gynne, Danielle Branch, Robert Pugh | UK 2011 107mins

Marc Evans’ feelgood Brit flick is a heartfelt tribute to his Swansea schooldays and that long hot summer of ’76.  A heady time when Bowie ruled the airwaves, bovver boys roamed the streets and chest freezers were the ultimate ‘mod con’.

Minnie Driver shines as feisty drama teacher Vivienne who inspires her wayward six-formers in the sweltering heat by dreaming up a futuristic musical version of The Tempest set to songs from Bowie, ELO and The Turtles. From the largely teenage cast of newcomers with great voices, Aneurin Barnard (Ironclad) stands out in a sultry turn as hormonal hearthrob cum toyboy, Davey.  Bumbling Headmaster Robert Pugh adds weight to the production as Prospero.

There’s plenty of fun from sexy frolics by candlelight (weren’t the power cuts in ’73?) to high school high jinks in a warm and upbeat tale that captures the seventies vibe and has you wanting to sing along out loud. MT




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